Dan, Alex, Michelle, and Nicole Bellini are one of the nicest families you’ll ever meet. Together, they run the family business that started out as an Aviary. The two hives grew to over 20 and the bounty of honey was shared with family and friends. Needing an additional diverse food source for the precious pollinators, they decided on lavender.
While many plants can attract bees, lavender is a nectar-rich flower, which is an important factor for the bees. Another important factor is that lavender thrives with limited water and without pesticides, which helps when your farm is in the draught-stricken state of California.
In 2019, three varieties of lavender plants, all with purple flowers, were planted. Of the nearly 2500 plants, Royal Velvet and Folgate are Culinary Lavenders. Grosso is used primarily for its essential oil.
The following years, new varieties were planted. Both Melissa and Edelweiss, also culinary lavenders. have beautiful white flowers. Each variety of lavender has a slightly different look with its own aroma and taste. I’m on my second tin of this flavorful herb. It’s a blend incorporating two of the English varieties of lavender – Royal Velvet and Folgate. I have used it to make my Herbs de Provence, limonata, and lavender sugar (a definite pantry staple).
As I use this herb in cooking and baking, I appreciate the fact that the buds have been grown and processed without the use of any chemicals. The lavender buds have been cut, dried, de-budded, and cleaned right on their farm.
During my visit, Dan gave a terrific talk about lavender. Harvesting is an all-hands-on-deck family affair, beginning early in the morning hours when the oil is most concentrated. The best cutting tool for lavender is called a harvesting knife. It’s curved like a scythe and has a serrated edge. However, during “Lavender Days” you are able to cut a bunch or two for yourself with a pair of sharp scissors.
The lavender is then gathered into bundles and secured with rubber bands. They are left to dry, hanging upside down in a cool, dark place. Once fully dried, the lavender buds are removed from the stems and then cleaned in the separator.
Lavender is best known for its essential oils with an intense yet soothing floral fragrance. It is one of the most therapeutic botanical essences and is reported to help ease anxiety, headaches and insomnia. You’ll also find its heady scent in luxurious day spas, as it has a calming, relaxing effect. That was certainly how I was feeling as I walked through the lavender fields. Even the honeybees were tranquil!
From the lavender body mist and lotions to the scented candles, you will find 100% pure lavender essential oil in the Bellini’s products.
Lavender’s essential oil is obtained by distillation.
Notice the empty drying racks behind the still that will soon be filled with bundles of lavender permeating the air with their seductive scent.
Day two of my visit, Dan, beekeeper extraordinaire, shared his passion and wealth of knowledge on the subject of bees. I believe this is crucial information so that more people can become aware of the importance of bees, and perhaps inspired to plant bee-loving flowers, and support the local Bee farmers who produce this healthy age-old product.
And, so, it seems this story has come full circle. A business that began with just two hives, is now a thriving, lovely lavender farm and apiary. The bees love the lavender, and the lavender loves their buzzing buddies.
And you and I benefit from this match made in honey heaven. A visit to the Bellini’s family farm and apiary is a special treat for the entire family, especially during the blooming season. The beauty and fragrance alone are pleasantly intoxicating! And because lavender is draught tolerant and without pesticides, you will be supporting sustainable, environmentally friendly, family farming and agritourism.
If you are a frequent visitor of SicilianGirl, you know how much I support local family farms. And when I travel, I search out the local farms wherever I happen to be. A few of my favorites are a Vanilla farm in Hawaii, U-Pick fruits and vegetables in Arizona, a cacao farm (or a “chocolate forest” as my granddaughter calls it) in Kona Hawaii, and an Italian artichoke farm in the artichoke capital of the world, Castroville, California (near Monterey).
Save the date for early June 2023 (Mother nature will have the final say) for Lavender Days at D.A.M.N (an acronym for Dan, Alex, Michelle and Nicole) Good Lavender Farm. You can also purchase their wonderful products online at damngoodlavenderfarm.com.
Once home from our road trip, Jack unloaded the car, and I prepared coffee. Couldn’t wait to have another delicious lavender shortbread cookie purchased at the farm. As I set the tray on the table, Jack handed me a small gift box tied with a lavender ribbon. “It’s for you, open it,” he said. This thoughtful, gift is the heart-shaped box above (one of many woodworking projects Dan enjoys making). It is a special memory of the good time we shared on a lovely lavender farm and Aviary with … one of the nicest Sicilian families you’ll ever meet!